XO VEEDICT OX INDIA
What was the man getting at ? There must be something
behind the question ; he was not the facetious sort, and even if he
had been, twenty years in Darjeeling would have cured him of it.
You can't be facetious, living uixder the scrutiny of the eternal
I began to thiuk of some of the Indians I had met; they seemed
to move before me in a pageant of astonishing diversity and colour^
At the head of the pageant, strange to say, were four murderers*
They had been my neighbours in hospital at Peshawar. They
were chained to their beds and you could hear the chains rattling
in the night. A pleasanter group of murderers you would not find
in a mouth of Sundays, mild of eye, soft of voice, gentle of gesture*
Each of them had murdered for love or passion or honour, none
of them for gold. That is the way of the North-West Frontier.
In the wake of the murderers—(for the dusk plays tricks with
the mind, making it flicker from point like shadows in the valley)
—marched three nautch girls. They had been, the high spot iix a
religious procession at the palace of the Maharajah of Mysore,
and once seen, they could never be forgotten, for they were so
surprisingly unlike what one expected. For a whole hour we had
stood on the steps, watching a turbulent river of colour ; standard-
bearers with palanquins of purple and jade, soldiers with rods of
solid gold, shaped in the semblance of serpents, priests with many-
pronged candelabras of silver, encrusted with jewels.
Then the sacred cows—elegant and coquettish, their backs
covered with tapestries of crimson and azure, their great horns
glided, their faces touched with mascara and vermilion. Even
their feet were tipped with gold and braceleted.
And at last the nautch girls.
1 Look!' they cried. * Here they come I'
'But where ?J I leant forward with fierce impatience; after all,
one's first nauteh girl is an experience ; no race of beings has beeu
invested with a rarer aura of poetry and romance.
*Over there. One in gold, one in purple, and one in silver*
Don't you scef
I saw M3&3 Zazu Pitts, Miss Haidee Wright and a lady who
greatly resembled the late Duchess of Teek.